Android Overview Updated March 24, 2021

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13,219 'Android' stories

May 2011 - December 2021

Android is Google’s mobile operating system, launched in September 2008, although its history technically began with the release of the Android alpha in November 2007. To this day, Android powers the majority of the world’s smartphones and comes in several different flavors across many phone makers.

What is Android?

Android Inc.

Android, before it was Android, was a company called Android Inc. That company was founded in Palo Alto, California, in 2003 by a crew of four: Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White. The company and its project was acquired by Google in 2005 for a sum of more than $50 million, although the exact number is unknown. The company’s founders joined Google as part of the deal.

In its infancy, Android was an operating system built not for touch screen smartphones like the iPhone, but rather BlackBerry-like devices with physical keyboards. It’s well documented that after Apple shocked the world with the iPhone, ahead of its nearest competition by at least a couple years, Google and Android Inc. had to go back to the drawing board to build something competitive.

Adoption by third-party makers

It didn’t take long after the launch of the iPhone for various manufacturers to enter the market with their alternatives — and Google’s Android immediately became the obvious platform of choice for just about everyone except Microsoft. HTC was the first manufacturer on board, and introduced the T-Mobile G1 running Android in September 2008. Soon after, HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile jumped on board to form the Open Handset Alliance.

Android makers across the world

Iconic Android handsets

There have been thousands of Android phones released since Android’s inception, but some have been more important to the platform’s history than others. There was the original T-Mobile G1, as mentioned, but there was also the HTC One Google Play Edition, Moto G, Samsung Galaxy S4, and others. Some of the most iconic Android handsets include:

  • HTC G1
  • HTC Nexus One
  • Samsung Galaxy S, S2, S3, S4, and their successors
  • HTC Incredible S
  • Samsung Nexus S
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • Nokia 8
  • BlackBerry KeyOne
  • Google Pixel and its successors

In more modern times, there are several Android smartphones makers that popped up across various niches and in several international markets. Huawei is a dominant Android maker in China and many European markets, while Samsung is by far the most popular maker in the United States by far — effectively creating a duopoly with Apple. Today, there are dozens of major device makers contributing to the Android ecosystem.

Full list of Android OEMs

History of major Android versions

Android has seen countless software revisions over the course of its life, but in modern times the OS usually sees a major release on an annual cadence. In the earlier days, Google famously gave its major software releases dessert-themed codenames, but retired that practice in 2019 with the release of Android 10.

Version Name Release Devices
2.3 Gingerbread February 9, 2011 Nexus S
4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich October 19, 2011 Galaxy Nexus
4.1 Jelly Bean July 9, 2012 Nexus 7
4.2 Jelly Bean November 13, 2012 Nexus 4, 10
4.3 Jelly Bean July 24, 2013 Nexus 7 (2013)
4.4 KitKat October 31, 2013 Nexus 5
5.0 Lollipop November 3, 2014 Nexus 6, 9
5.1 Lollipop March 9, 2015 Android One
6.0 Marshmallow October 5, 2015 Nexus 5X, 6P
7.0 Nougat August 22, 2016 Nexus 5X, 6P
7.1 Nougat October 4, 2016 Pixel, Pixel XL
8.0 Oreo August 21, 2017 Pixel, Pixel XL
8.1 Oreo December 5, 2017 Pixel, Pixel XL
9 Pie August 6, 2018 Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL
10 10 September 3, 2019 Pixel 3, 3a
11 11 September 8, 2020 Pixel 4

List of major Android OS platforms

While Android proper is certainly the most widespread of Google’s Android operating systems, the company has also launched many offshoots of the main OS over the years. There’s Android Auto, Android Wear (now Wear OS), Android TV (now rebranded to Google TV), as well as versions of Android built for tablets and Android Things (now defunct).

Android Stories Today

With the busyness of the holidays, it’s easy to lose track of all the things that need to be done, both at home and while out and about. To help keep everyone on track, the Google Assistant’s “Family Bell” feature is now available on Android phones.

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Following Gmail last week, Play Books, Google Photos, and YouTube Music are set to get new widgets on Android.

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Back at I/O, Google announced that Android 12 will let you unlock compatible vehicles with just your phone. Digital car key support for locking/unlocking and starting vehicles is going live for the Pixel 6 and Samsung Galaxy S21 lines from today.

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Android Stories November 30

Android 11 introduced a clever new concept that placed cards from your digital wallet and controls from your smart home in the power menu. It was a great idea, but one that Google entirely killed off in Android 12. Now, a new app brings back a near-perfect recreation of that power menu to Android 12, but it does require root access.

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Android Stories November 29

After launching a beta test in recent weeks, Epic Games and Psyonix are now launching the mobile version of Rocket League, “Sideswipe,” on Android and iOS devices across the globe.

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Wallpaper Engine comes to Android as an extension of the popular PC wallpaper app

Animated wallpapers can be a lot of fun, and on PCs, there’s a useful app called Wallpaper Engine to offer a huge amount of flexibility in creating their wallpapers. Today, Wallpaper Engine is making its way to Android, with support to bing the same wallpapers on your PC over to your phone.

It appears that the Realme GT 2 Pro is channeling the Google Nexus 6P with a design that takes more than just a few design cues from the former flagship.

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Android Stories November 25

How to watch Thanksgiving day football on Android, Google TV, Chromecast, etc.

Thanksgiving Day football is here, and that means just about everyone and their brother in the US will want to watch the games. Here’s how you can watch the three Thanksgiving Day football games today at 12:30 pm ET, 4:30 pm ET, and 8:20 pm ET tonight on Android devices, Google TV, and Chromecast.

Android Stories November 23

These are the best Android smartphones [Late 2021]

The end of the year is often a great time to buy a new smartphone as holiday discounts abound. If you’re looking to get a new device, here are some of the best Android phones we’d recommend in late 2021.

Android Stories November 22

In late 2018, Google stopped monthly reporting on the adoption of various Android releases, but the company sparingly provides updated figures in Android Studio. Distribution numbers for 2021 today have Android 11 – instead of 12 – as the latest version.

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Android Stories November 16

If you’re lucky enough to have a PS5 and, therefore, the new DualSense controller, thanks to a PS Remote Play app update, the gamepad is now fully compatible with the recent Android 12 update while the PS4’s DualShock 4 is getting some enhanced features, too.

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Android Stories November 15

Earlier this year, a Japanese appliance company most known for a $299 toaster announced it was making an Android phone. The Balmuda Phone was announced today with modern-ish specs and an incredibly adorable design that curves into the palm of your hand.

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The best smartwatches for Android you can buy today [Update: November 2021]

Finding the right smartwatch can be very difficult on Android, especially with so many options out there. If you’ve been trying to find the right smartwatch for your wrist, these are the best Android smartwatches you can buy today.

Android Stories November 13

Despite the rise of mobile gaming and the continual evolution of controllers, a keyboard and mouse remain the best way to play some games, especially shooters. If you want a way to bring the accuracy of a keyboard and mouse to your favorite mobile and cloud games, the KeyMander 2 Mobile is the best way to do so, but it will come at a cost.

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Android Stories November 12

How to check your heart rate with the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro

Earlier this week, Google pushed a feature that could check your heart rate on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro without the use of a smartwatch. By reading the minute details in your index fingertip using the Pixel’s camera, Google Fit can identify your BPM. This allows anyone with a Pixel 6 or 6 Pro to check their heart rate on the go in seconds without external hardware.

Android Stories November 10

Making the most of Android 12 widgets with customization

Android not only offers a lot of new AI-driven processing capabilities, but it also adds a little flare to the quality of life department. With the addition of Material You, wallpapers mesh well with the UI adding a cohesiveness that many people love about their Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. In addition, Google’s widgets play along well and are easy to customize, allowing you to tailor the Android 12 experience even better.

Niantic’s new Pikmin Bloom game seems to cause notification issues for some Android users

Following its massive hit in Pokemon Go a few years ago, Niantic has returned with Pikmin Bloom, another Nintendo-based property that takes place in the real world. However, the release of Pikmin Bloom on Android seems to have come with a strange issue affecting notifications.

Android Stories November 9

Tasker lets you force resize Android 12’s AOD clock w/ help of in-app project

One of the most obvious changes, when you boot your Pixel device into Android 12, is the brand-new AOD clock and associated layout. Thanks to a new in-app project courtesy of Tasker’s developer João Dias, you’re now able to force resize the clock to the more compact smaller layout.

Android Stories November 8

Google 2-Step Verification: How to set up and manage your account security

Google recently announced that going forward, accounts would need to have 2-Step Verification (2SV) enabled. According to the company, the first wave of accounts are already being transitioned into this security measure. Many companies already employ this feature, though under the name 2-Factor Authentication (2FA). Fortunately, Google’s 2-Step Verification is easy to set up, and just as easy to use.

Android Stories November 6

How to use Google Drive for desktop app to backup files and photos

Google Drive is a powerhouse of a file storage system. It makes it easy to save documents and other data that can be transferred to other Google apps as well. Fortunately, Google makes it easy to access Drive straight from your desktop – whether Mac or PC.

Android Stories November 5

For Android enthusiasts, and especially those who want it all, the best phones to buy are the “Ultra” versions of Samsung’s Galaxy S phones. New images have surfaced allegedly showing the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which now includes an S Pen slot.

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Android Stories November 4

How to create custom Gmail profile pictures with Google Illustrations

Having a Google Account means customizing it to your heart’s content. That truly becomes the case when choosing a profile picture, since that picture is the face of your account and the thing that everyone sees. Google Illustrations is a tool integrated into Gmail for Android that lets you create custom profile pictures and really spice up your account.

Android Stories November 2

The best Android phones you can buy today [Update: November 2021]

If you’re on the hunt for a new smartphone, chances are you’ve got a lot of devices on your shortlist. There are so many different options out on the market today that it can make finding the right one a bit difficult. So, let’s take a look at the best Android phones you can buy today in the United States, as of November 2021.

Earlier this year Netflix announced it was testing out an expansion from video streaming to gaming, with mobile games being made part of Netflix subscriptions. Today, that initiative is going worldwide, as Netflix adds Android games for users around the world.

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The ability to share your copy/paste clipboard between your phone and computer is a neat trick, but one that’s not always been very easy on Android devices. In its latest update, Microsoft has just granted the ability to sync your clipboard across Windows and Android, thanks to SwiftKey.

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Samsung October 2021 security update is rolling out now to these Galaxy devices

As we prepare to see the release of Android 12 this month, Samsung is rolling on with its consistent monthly security patches. For October 2021, several Galaxy smartphones are already seeing Samsung push out updates. Here’s the full, continuously updated list.

Android Stories October 28

After Microsoft announced that Android apps would be natively supported in Windows 11, it was only a matter of time before the Google Play Store was enabled on the OS. As it turns out, that time was just a couple of weeks, as a clever workaround has already enabled the functionality.

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Android Stories October 27

As part of this year’s Android Dev Summit, Google has unveiled a suite of new tools for developers, making it easier to use the new Material You design language and create apps for larger screens.

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While Android has its fair share of solid video editing apps, Chrome OS has to make do with some fairly basic and substandard options. That is set to change as the team behind the excellent iOS and iPad-only LumaFusion has confirmed that development has started on dedicated Android and ChromeOS versions of the app.

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Android Stories October 25

Hot on the heels of the Android 12 release for Pixel devices, Lawnchair 12 has arrived in Alpha with support for the latest OS build.

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Android Stories October 21

Google’s 2021 Smart Home Developer Summit today sees a number of developments around Matter, including Android support via Play services. The announcements start with “Google Home” now serving as the name for the company’s entire smart home platform, developer program, and tools.

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Back in March, Google Play announced that it was cutting commission fees to 15% on the first $1 million in revenue from paid apps and in-app purchases (IAPs) for all Android developers. Google announced today that next year, the Play Store will only take a 15% cut on all subscriptions from day one. 

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Android Stories October 20

Microsoft releasing Android app support on Windows 11 to Insiders, US only for now

Windows 11 saw its formal release earlier this month, but without support for Android apps as was announced early on. Today, Microsoft is changing that with the first Insiders build of Windows 11 that supports Android apps through the Microsoft Store.

Android Stories October 19

While Android releases don’t carry a public dessert name any longer, they do have an internal codename that keeps up the tradition. This year’s release is “Snow Cone,” and Google has just released its usual statue for Android 12 alongside the platform’s rollout today on Pixel phones.

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The new Pixel 6 series delivers the company’s in-house Tensor chip which is supposed to upgrade how long these phones last. While it does do that, it’s a bit disappointing to see that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will only get 3 years of major Android OS updates.

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Android Stories October 18

Back in May, Google announced a new Play Store requirement to have Android apps detail how they collect and use personal information. The Google Play “Data safety” section will go live in February as developers will soon be able to fill out the necessary information.

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Android Stories October 13

With Android 12 hitting AOSP at the start of the month, Google also released the latest Compatibility Definition Document (CDD). There are a handful of hardware and software changes that device makers have to abide by, but nothing too major.

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Android Stories October 12

Smart Lock dates back to Android Lollipop and was Google’s solution for reducing the number of times users had to enter their passcodes before the ubiquity of fingerprint readers. Smart Lock in Android Settings was recently updated with a much-needed modern UI.

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Android Stories October 11

Google announced the “Private Compute Core” at I/O in May as an effective rebrand of “Device Personalization Services,” now called “Android System Intelligence.” That was followed by “Private Compute Services” last month, with that component now available as an app on the Play Store.

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With the Pixel series, up until now, we’ve relied on a capacitive fingerprint scanner save 2019, where Face Unlock was briefly added to the mix. Because the Pixel 6 is set to include software-based Face Unlock and an in-display fingerprint scanner, we wanted to know just what biometric security you prefer on your device.

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Android Stories October 8

During I/O 2021, Google announced that Chrome for Android would be testing a built-in RSS reader. It’s considered an experiment that might not ever launch, but you can test the RSS-powered “Web Feed” in Chrome today.

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Android Stories October 6

The landscape of affordable Android tablets is littered with unbranded options and many poor-quality options. However, HMD Global wants to change that with the newly unveiled Nokia T20 Android tablet, which at under $250 could be a nice everyday companion.

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Android Stories October 5

Netflix rolls out ‘Play Something’ shuffle mode to all Android users

After limited testing in selected regions earlier in the year, Netflix has now rolled out the “Play Something” shuffle mode to all Android users globally.

Android Stories October 4

The Pixel’s Now Playing feature is powered by Android System Intelligence (previously called Device Personal Services). An update for Pixel phones running Android 12 will introduce an interface redesign for Now Playing, as well as the ability to send unrecognized songs to the cloud.

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According to some rumors, Android 12 is set to arrive today but while it is not technically official yet, we asked you what Android version you were running on your device and now we have the results.

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Android Stories October 1

A shortage of chips and other electronic components has been affecting several industries over the past year, though smartphones have only experienced minor effects to date. Unfortunately, things may get a bit worse according to a new report.

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Android Stories September 30

Android 12 has been almost a year in the making, but not all smartphones are eligible to get updated when it arrives. Which has us wondering just which Android version you’re currently running on your device.

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Android Stories September 27

Latest Fairphone 4 leak shows off the surprisingly sleek design in more detail

Modern smartphones are slick and refined pieces of technology, but all too often that comes at the expense of repairability. The Fairphone 4 is around the corner with the goal of fixing that with a shockingly slim and modern-looking design.

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